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J Antimicrob Chemother. 2012 Jan;67(1):222-5. doi: 10.1093/jac/dkr420. Epub 2011 Oct 6.

CNS infections caused by Mycobacterium abscessus complex: clinical features and antimicrobial susceptibilities of isolates.

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Department of Internal Medicine, National Taiwan University Hospital, Taipei, Taiwan.



CNS infections caused by non-tuberculous mycobacteria (NTM) are rare and only three cases of CNS infections due to Mycobacterium abscessus complex have been reported.


We searched the Mycobacteriology Database of the National Taiwan University Hospital and identified patients with CNS infections due to NTM.


A total of 15 patients, namely 4 HIV-seropositive patients and 11 HIV-seronegative patients, with CNS infections caused by NTM were identified during 2000-10. All of the HIV-seropositive patients had disseminated Mycobacterium avium complex infections. Among the 11 HIV-seronegative patients, NTM CNS infections were due to M. abscessus complex in 8 patients, M. avium complex in 2 patients and Mycobacterium kansasii in 1 patient. All the six preserved M. abscessus complex isolates were confirmed to be Mycobacterium massiliense by erm(41) PCR and 23S rRNA gene sequence analysis. Among the eight patients with infections due to M. abscessus complex, three had otolaryngological diseases, four had received neurosurgery and one had disseminated disease. Five patients received surgical debridement or intracranial device removal and three patients died of M. abscessus complex CNS infection. Among the five patients who survived, all received clarithromycin-based combination therapy with a median duration of 12 months and four received surgical intervention. All six isolates available for drug susceptibility testing showed uniform susceptibility to clarithromycin and five were susceptible to amikacin.


Our study revealed that M. abscessus complex isolates, particularly M. massiliense, should be considered potential pathogens causing CNS infections. Long-duration clarithromycin-based combination therapy plus surgical intervention may provide the best chance of cure.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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